CodeMark22 CodeMark22 - 6 months ago 48
iOS Question

Why do I need @1x, @2x and @3x iOS images?

This may sound a bit ignorant, but I just don't understand the idea too much behind this....why do we need these 3 particular image types?

If I have a button on my app with a background image say, 50 pixels x 50 pixels, why do I need 3 versions of this image? What's stopping me from just making one image that's much higher in res, say, 700x700 so when it shrinks down on any iPhone it won't fall under the max res the device would want?

Only thing I can think of is it just takes up more space, but for simple apps / a simple button it seems like it wouldn't cause any issues. I've tried it on a few devices and see no difference between them when I simulate it and do this method. However, as I dive more into apps and stuff I'm sure there is substance behind this technique.

Any advice / input would be appreciated! Thanks.

Answer

If you don't have the exact size, there are two things that can happen:

Upscaling

@3x or @2x can be upscaled from @1x but usually the visual result is blurry, with thick lines and doesn't look good. Upscaling @3x from @2x can be even worse because subpixels must be used.

Downscaling

In general, the results are much better than with upscaling, however, that doesn't apply for all the images. If you have a 1px border on a @3x image, after downscaling it to @1x the border won't be visible (0.33px). The same applies for any small objects in the image. Downscaling destroys all details.

In general - for an image too look perfect, you want to avoid both downscaling and upscaling. You can always go with only @2x or @3x images and add other scales only if you see visual problems. Using higher resolution won't improve downscaling. High resolutions are used only to avoid upscaling. Downscaling from a high scale (e.g. @100x) to @1x won't create better results than downscaling from @3x.